India on Wednesday, Sept 14, conveyed its “concern” at the US decision to provide a sustenance package for Pakistan’s F-16 fleet.
“I conveyed India’s concern at the recent US decision to provide a sustenance package for Pakistan’s F-16 fleet,”
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted after he held a telephonic conversation with US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin.
“Look forward to continuing dialogue with Secretary Austin to further consolidate India-US partnership,” he wrote in another missive.
Rajnath also wrote – “Had a warm and productive telephonic conversation with the US Secretary of Defence, Mr. Lloyd Austin. We discussed the growing convergence of strategic interests and enhanced defence & security cooperation”.
He further wrote in the micro blogging site that the two sides discussed ways to strengthen “technological and industrial collaboration” and also explore cooperation in emerging and critical technologies.
The United States military sales worth $450 million for the upgrade of the F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan were part of the country’s long-standing policy, the US Department of States has said, trying to downplay funding that attracted strong objections from New Delhi.
India protested the decision to sell spares to Pakistan with US Assistant Secretary of State Donald Lu, saying the technology would be used against it.
The US government has notified the Congress of a proposed Foreign Military sales case to sustain the Pakistan Air Force`s F-16 programme. The US maintained that as part of long-standing policy, the United States provides life cycle maintenance and sustainment packages for US-origin platforms.
The US move is also seen as an ice-breaking decision between the US and Pakistan after four years of not so smooth relations during the stint of Imran Khan as the Prime Minister.
India has earlier accused Pakistan of funnelling US aid towards its proxy war in Jammu and Kashmir and fomenting terrorism and having used the F-16 fleet during the aerial dogfight after the Pulwama attack in February 2019.
It may be mentioned that in 2018, the Donald Trump administration had suspended about $2 billion in security aid to Pakistan for failing to clamp down on the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network terror groups.